An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Actual Telephone Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #71

(It should be noted, as it has in the past, that I do not like Caller ID People. Yes, those souls who rush right for their caller ID box the moment they get home and start phoning all the numbers that have appeared on it, regardless of whether or not they're familiar numbers and regardless of whether or not any of those numbers correspond with messages that may or may not have been left on their answering machines already, piss me off. For the record, my wife thinks it's all perfectly logical to use your caller ID box in this manner, and I can kind of see her point; I mean, it's one thing to see that your friend Bubba called you but didn't leave a message and to then surmise that Bubba, perhaps, wished to speak with you and might enjoy a call back. Fine. However, when you get a message from a business and/or institution with multiple employees, it makes no sense to me to phone them up and have any sort of expectation that the person who answers the phone will have ANY possible way to know why someone phoned you from that number. I am, therefore, a Caller-ID-Person-Detractor, cannot abide their behavior, and go out of my way to make things difficult for them when they phone the "liberry." Does this make me an asshole? Perhaps. Does it sometimes come back to bite me? You be the judge...)

*RING*
ME— Tri-Metro County Library.

CALLER— Yeah. This number showed up on my caller ID and I was just calling to see why?

ME— I have absolutely no idea.

(Pause)

CALLER— Huh.

ME— Did the call occur today?

CALLER— No. Yesterday.

ME— Ahhh. I wasn't here yesterday, so I really couldn't say why you were called from this number. Yesterday.

(Pause)

CALLER— Er. Would it make a difference if I gave you my name?

ME— Again, I have absolutely no idea. It suppose that it might.

(Pause)

CALLER— Um...

ME— What's your name?

CALLER— Mr. Caller ID Guy.

ME— (Bell goes off in head as I recognize the name) Ah! Yes! Yes, it does. (I dig in the hold bin, where I had earlier spied an interliberry loan with his name on it.) We have a book on hold for you here.

CALLER— Oh? What is it.

(Book in hand, I tell him the title. I also see that Ms. S had noted on the book's ILL slip that she had already left a message on the man's machine telling him we had this book on hold for him, hence why it was in the Hold Bin and not the pre-call Hold Shelf. In other words, this guy hadn't even bothered to check his messages AT ALL before heading for the caller ID! What an asshole!)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Encroaching on Second

Mr. Crab, third grumpiest old man in all the world, was in yesterday. He left the lights of his vehicle on despite its patented "Hey, Jerkweed, Your Lights Are On!" *bing*bing*bing* automatic alarm. I didn't know any of that, though, until a succession of patrons came in to tell me about it. Still, this is Mr. Crab we're talking about, so I wasn't in any big hurry to let him know. Nearly an hour later, another patron mentioned the lights and alarm, so I finally decided to go tell Mr. Crab, just so people would leave me alone about it.

On his way out the door to go check on his vehicle, Mr. Crab dropped a book onto the circ desk, saying, "I'll be back for that in a minute." True to his word, he returned a minute later. By then, I was was busy helping another patron, so I didn't notice immediately that Mr. Crab had come up to the desk, picked up his still uncheckedout book and was headed for the door until he was nearly there. It was exactly as if he thought I had somehow magically checked that book out to him without the benefit of his having first supplied his library card. (And this, I'm certain, is Mr. Crab's greatest fantasy.)

"Excuse me," I called. "Excuse me?!" I called again. Mr. Crab stopped, scuttled around and gave me a dirty look, as if to say, What?

"I didn't check that out to you, yet," I said.

"What?"

"I haven't checked that book out to you, yet."

Mr. Crab grumbled something under his breath and returned to the desk to wait his turn. When I finished with the previous patron (coincidentally, the same lady he nearly ran over during my last encounter with him) he stepped up to the desk, set the book down and, as in accordance with tradition, stood there as though the next move were somehow mine.

"I'll just need your library card," I said.

Mr. Crab didn't actually make any negative comment on my asking him for his card, (you know, like mentioning how he was going to deprive us of his annual $200 donation for making him fish it out), but his expression said volumes about how much he really really wanted to and how much I was crushing his fantasy of not having to have it to check things out, (being as how, of course, he's such a major donor).

As he was digging in his wallet, he gestured toward our circ-computer and said, "You know, when people have a library card here, there ought to be something you could just click there that would tell you they have a library card without them having to tear up their wallet."

I had the sudden and nearly overwhelming urge to say, "Oh, but, sir, we DO have something we can click to tell us whether or not you have a patron record with us. It's called A LIBRARY CARD!!!! Whether or not you `tear up' your wallet in retrieving it is entirely your business, but retrieve it you shall, you cantankerous, great, honking asspipe."

I don't know how I managed it, but my lips remained tightly tightly sealed in a rigor mortis-like smile.

Mr. Crab regarded me for a long moment before saying, "No comment?"

I shook my head silently, in the negative, smiling like a maniac. Mr. Crab nodded back and scuttled out the door.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Actual Telephone Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #70

*RING*

ME— Tri-Metro Public Library.

CALLER—Yes, is Mrs. A there?

ME— No, I'm sorry. She's not in today. Can I take a message?

CALLER— Huh? But, I talked to her this morning.

ME— Yes. She's only in for half a day on Mondays.

CALLER— So, she'll be in later?

ME— No. She's only in for half a day on Mondays. That half was this morning.

CALLER— Oh. So, she'll be in tomorrow afternoon, then?

ME— No. She's only here a half day today. She'll be in all day tomorrow.

CALLER— Oh. So, I could call tomorrow morning?

ME— (Trying not to sigh exasperatedly) Yes.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Jungle Boogie (a.k.a. "Stop, thief, or we'll call your neighbors and have them ask you to stop.")

While I was out, we had a bit of very slow excitement at the "liberry." The Alphabet Squad of Mrs.es A, B & C told me about it today, since they all played a part in it.

Mrs. A began by saying that on Wednesday a fellow stepped into Mrs. A's office upstairs and asked if we had The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. This is a bit unorthodox to begin with, as having patrons step into her office to ask reference questions isn't a typical occurence for Mrs. A. However, she is a librarian and helping patrons comes with the territory, so she fired up the OPAC on her computer to make certain of the floor on which the book was located and then told the fellow that if he were to go to the circ desk in our fiction room downstairs, someone there would direct him to the book.

At this point, Mrs. B chimed in saying that the fellow did come downstairs and asked for direction to The Jungle. She led dude to the shelf, pulled the book for him and passed it to him. He thanked her and returned to the children's room, where a lady Mrs. B assumed was his wife and a kid Mrs. B assumed was his kid, were at.

Mrs. C then joined the narrative saying that after a while the dude, lady and kid wrapped up their browsing, rounded the corner of the children's room, bypassed the circ desk entirely and walked out the front door. Mrs. C and Mrs. B looked at one another, thinking it was odd that dude had left without checking his book out and wondered whether he'd actually taken it with him. They quickly checked the book cart and the kids room, but didn't see The Jungle anywhere. So Mrs. C ran outside where she found the group getting into their car. Not knowing quite how to approach the subject, Mrs. C asked the man if he needed to check out The Jungle after all. He said, no, he didn't. Mrs. C then pointed out that she had not found it on the book cart and was trying to make sure he hadn't simply forgotten to check it out. Oh no, he said. He'd laid it down in the children's room. Taking him at his word, Mrs. C went back inside.

There followed a lengthy and exhaustive search of the entire library for The Jungle, enlisting the aid of all available library employees. Carts were checked. The tops of shelved books were checked. The actual spot in the General Fiction S's where the book normally lives was checked. The book remained unfound.

The Alphabet Squad considered this. The man had clearly stolen the book, but what could be done about it? He didn't have a library card, so there was no contact information for him. Then someone remembered that the woman the man had left with, presumably his wife, had applied for and received a library card during their visit, though she had not actually used it. So Mrs. A phoned her up at the number on her application, reached her and asked to speak to her husband. The lady explained that the man who'd been in with her wasn't her husband but was, instead, a neighbor she'd given a lift to. This being the case, Mrs. A explained the situation and her thoughts about the book and its likely status as being borrowed outside proper channels. Hearing the dilema, the lady offered to go next door and ask her neighbor if he had the book and phone Mrs. A back. And, after a while, she called back and told Mrs. A that her neighbor still insisted not to have the book and that he'd laid it down in the children's room.

More searching commenced. No book was found. Hours passed.

At some point in the afternoon, Mrs. A and Mrs. C were standing at the circ desk when the man from earlier returned. He didn't approach the circ-desk, but instead hugged the far wall, making his way to the children's room. Mrs. A and C looked at one another then made a break for the kids' room themselves. As they rounded the corner, they found the man stooped over, trying desperately to cram our copy of The Jungle into one of the Easy Reader shelves. Unfortunately for him, the shelf was so tightly packed with books that he couldn't open enough space to fit it. Catching sight of Mrs.es A and C, he quickly threw The Jungle on top of the books on that shelf and nervously stood up.

"See. I laid it down in here," he offered, pointing to it for them.

Mrs. A didn't elaborate on any consequences to the man, so I imagine they just let him go. Maybe he was addled about the head. The question arises, though, that if he'd had to get a lift from his neighbor to come to the library earlier, had he done so again to return the stolen book?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Drama Queen

Back in late December and in the early part of January, we were paid several visits by a girl I like to call the Drama Queen. The Drama Queen is a college-aged girl who grew up in the Tri-Metro area but is now firmly in college elsewhere in the country. However, being as how school was out for the Christmas holidays, she was at home with her mom.

Apparently things around Tri-Metro just aren't exciting enough for the Drama Queen, for she seemed determined to bring some kind of, well, drama, to our otherwise dullish community, even if this meant she had to force some to happen.

During my first encounter with the Drama Queen, she began a conversation with me in mid-conversation, walking through the door and then, as though we'd been talking about it for the past ten minutes, mentioning that her family was STILL painting the interior walls of their house. She said this with exactly that attitude too; that her family was so intolerably slow at home decorating that they were STILL engaged in painting the walls after ALL this time. I'd never met the girl before, as far as I knew, let alone discussed her family's decorating projects, but the Drama Queen's end of the conversation seemed to be a continuation of one she'd been having with someone and it may as well have been me.

Over the course of the following two weeks, the Drama Queen returned again and again. One day she was followed by her mother, a small woman who looked pained as her daughter wildly gestured and went on and on about some small item of trivia that she was determined to inflate to enormous proportions. Other days, her brother accompanied her and looked similarly pained. Sometimes the Drama Queen would arrive alone, restart previously unstarted conversations with us, as though we had all been waiting in breathless anticipation for the next installment of The Exciting World of the Drama Queen and I'm sure we too gave pained expressions.

The Drama Queen would be an ideal candidate for such programs as The Real World, or, better still, Flavor of Love, because she seems to exist in that same sort of hyper-reality those shows aim to capture. Everything revolves around her. We're all supposed to be terribly excited about her life and what's happening in it, regardless of how minor those happenings might be.

It took me a while to really quantify this behavior. It seemed familiar somehow, yet not exactly in the right context. Only after some thought did I finally realize where I'd seen this before: The Drama Queen was a Cell Phone Person without a cell phone; the very kind of soul who goes about loudly and publicly narrating the intricacies of their existence over their cell phone for all to hear, because damn if they aren't living interesting, complicated and, all-importantly, dramatic lives.

(As opposed to those of us who just blog about it--which may be the other reason this seemed so uncomfortably familiar.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Real Life Interruption

Gonna be a bit of radio silence here for the next couple of days. We're back in North Carolina. Ashley's grandmother, Nonnie, passed away around 1 Monday morning. It wasn't exactly an unexpected passing, as her health had been rapidly declining over the past month. Tell the truth, it's not been so hot over the past ten years since she had her first major stroke, or the past five years or so since she's had to live in assisted living homes and, finally, a nursing home. Mostly, it's come as a relief, as the past couple of weeks have been rough going for her health-wise and it's been pretty upsetting to her family. In the end, she went out fairly comfortably.

According to Nonnie's roommate, Nonnie sat up in bed Sunday afternoon and said, "I'm going home, today." Within hours, she had.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Ad Infinitum

Yesterday morning, a lady patron came in, signed up for a computer, then turned to me and said, "By the way. I was here last night and had to buy a computer disc to save what I was working on, but the girl at the desk wouldn't let me pay her because she said she had closed out the cash box already. So, I owed her 50 cents." The lady then passed over the 50 cents.

Now, I knew that newbie greenhorn Ms. S had been on shift the night before and I knew that she has a penchant for tallying up the cashbox as early in her shift as she possibly can. So I asked, "About what time was that?"

"Oh, right at 7," the lady said, though she could have said anything from 4:30 on and I would have believed it. While I wasn't surprised to hear of Ms. S refusing money for services rendered in order to get out of having to retally the cashbox, we've repeatedly—allow me to further stress, *REPEATEDLY* (and, if I were any kind of real web coder, that word would appear to be aflame, shooting fireworks from its ass and singing Deee-Lite's "Groove is in the Heart")—explained to her that if someone pays her for something after the cash box has been tallied, she is welcome to take their money, deposit it into the cash box, take out a new date due slip and stick it to the counter beside the fines and copier tally slip of the current day, forward the date due stamp ahead one day, stamp the top of the new slip and then write down the amount paid on it so that it will be accounted for the following day. Doing that, however, would have required effort, so it didn't get done.

The patron wasn't finished with her tale, though. As I logged her onto her computer, she explained that the reason she had to purchase a disc in the first place was because she had been cutting and pasting vital information from websites into a Word document for quite some time, but when Ms. S came back to tell her the library was soon to close she also told the lady that she couldn't print any of what she'd been pasting because "I've already shut off the printer for the day." Okay, this was a flat out lie because we never—NEHehehHEHHHVER— shut off the printer. It simply doesn't happen. It stays on all the time and was, in fact, on this morning when we opened. The last time that printer's off switch saw any action was over two years ago when the damned thing refused to print for us one day and I was forced to reason with it using something other than a stick. What Ms. S was really saying was, "I've already tallied up the cash box for the day, which I probably did at 6:02, and I'm too lazy to do any more math tonight so I don't want to accept any of your money for prints made. Instead, I'm just going to say I shut down the printer already, a lie I hope you'll completely swallow before going away."

I smiled as I listened to the story. The lady wasn't even complaining, though. In fact, she thought that she herself was in the wrong for daring to want to print something so close to closing time. She even commented that Ms. S was very nice about it all and had been very patient with her. I decided not to tell her that Ms. S was full of shit. Instead, I ran and tattled to my boss Mrs. A, who, in turn, became delighted to have more evidence—from a patron, no less—to prove that Ms. S STILL isn't doing her damned job right.

Later, when the other alphabet squad arrived, we discussed it.

"I think we're going to HAVE to tell her she's not allowed to count the cashbox until 7 p.m.," Mrs. A said.

"Well, no," I said. "She could count it earlier if she'd just put it on a new tally slip like we've told her to do again and again."

"No, no. That's something YOU can do if you count the cashbox early," Mrs. C said. "MS. S has to do it at 7. It's a special rule for her."

"Ah."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Actual Telephone Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #69 ("Awww yeah!")

*RING*

ME: Tri-Metro County Library?

BIRTHDAY LADY: Yes, could you tell me what year Yvonne DeCarl0 was born?

ME: Oh, did she die?

BIRTHDAY LADY: Yes. Yes, she did.

ME: Aw. (Types) Hang on just a sec... (Googles Yvonne DeCarl0 and brings up her entry in IMDB.) Looks like September 1, 1922.

BIRTHDAY LADY: Oh, good. (Writing) Sep-tember... first... What was it?

ME: 1922.

BIRTHDAY LADY: Nineteen... twenty... two. Did you ever see her in that picture with Clark Gable?

ME: No, I'm afraid not. I'm mostly familiar with her from the Munsters.

BIRTHDAY LADY: Yes, she played in that too, but she was in a picture with Clark Gable that was very good.

ME: I can imagine. I have an early picture of her on the screen here and she was quite beautiful.

BIRTHDAY LADY: Thank you so much.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Finding Nanci

For Christmas, my wife got me a Creative Zen Vision-M. It's a 30 gig (welllll 27.3 gig, really) digital music playing wonderment. Thus far, I love it dearly. My only complaint is that it is incapable of playing files ripped in either of Windows Media Player's lossless digital formats, which is what I'd ripped nearly my entire CD collection into some three months back. I sulked about this for a day or so, figuring I'd have to either convert all those files to something different, or re-rip everything in a slightly less lossless format.

I opted to rerip.

I know, I know, I can already hear the cries of "Don't do it! There's an easier way!" ringing out. You're far too late to sway me, though, for as of the writing of this very sentence, I have now reripped everything in the highest possible quality otherwise that the player will play and soon 98 percent of my CD collection will be stored on this fabulous little device. (Even now, the CD drawer has popped out, having successfully ripped You Are Here #5, a compilation CD given to me as a bonus for spending so much money at Criminal Records in Atlanta, some eightornine years ago.)

The thing about CDs, though—actual CDs—is that every once in a while you lose one. Or you lose its case only. Or you lose the liner notes. Whatever. For a good while now, I have been missing the CD to Nanci Griffith's album Flyer. I had the case and the liner notes, but couldn't figure out what I could possibly have done with the CD that would cause it to become so lost. My only thought was that, some seven years ago, I'd somehow left it in my old car when I traded it in for the current one. But that didn't make sense, either, as I clearly remember listening to it since then. Perhaps not since I'd moved to WV, mind you, but certainly since the advent of the Malibu in early 2000. So, as you can see, years have passed with this empty case in my possession, hauled along with all 360 or so of my other CDS, from house to house and state to state, every time we've moved.

This morning, as I entered the home stretch of CD ripping, I found Nanci. The little minx had apparently been shacking up with the boys from The Why Store, for I found her snuggled up beside their album Two Beasts as I was about to rip that. I hadn't ripped Two Beasts during my original, ill-fated CD ripping project, three months ago. I had, however, finally tossed the case and liner notes to Flyer figuring 6 years was long enough for Nanci to have returned on her own. If you love something, set it free, and all that.

So now, Nanci Griffith is homeless.

Maybe I can get Toad the Wet Sprocket's Dulcinea to take her in.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Johnny "Print-Server" saves the day

Since I started working at the "liberry" in 2001, every coupleathree months, or so, one of our computer patrons prances up to the circ-desk, asks for the prints they just made from their computer and then deposits a square brick of poop into their undies when we pass over the half ream of paper they printed.

"But I didn't print this much," they invariably say. And we always know what will follow... "I just wanted to print that one little paragraph."

"Uh huh," we say. And, again, we know what will follow, for this is the point at which they tell us that they highlighted the one little paragraph of text they wanted to print on the massive website they wanted to print from and then hit print, honestly expecting that only the one little paragraph would print.

The last time this happened, I was finally fed up with it.

"Yeah," I said, "people keep telling us that highlighting and hitting print works, but I have never—NeHeHEHHHHVER—actually known it to. It prints the entire website EVERY single time."

"Oh. But I was told..."

"EVERY. SINGLE. TIME."

That's when a separate and unrelated patron, who happened to wander in and overhear this transaction, stepped over and said, "Did you set the print range to SELECTED?"

"Um. What?"

The eavesdropping patron then explained something I'd never heard before: when you only want to print only your highlighted text, you have to go FILE > PRINT > and within the PAGE RANGE part of the print menu, click the dot by SELECTED. Then and only then will it print exclusively your highlighted selection.

"Huh. I did not know that," I said. "Thanks, Wandering, Eavesdropping Print-Advisor!" Okay, I didn't say that last part, but I was thinking it.

This, of course, won't put a stop to the problem at hand of patrons printing entire websites when they only wanted a sentence, but at least when they complain about doing so, I'll now know precisely how to convey how much it is still their their fault.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Yosemite Sam vs. Mr. Little Stupid

An event too bizarre to not chronicle occurred in the "liberry" this week. ("What? Only one?")

Granny & Grandson arrived for some mid afternoon browsing and incessant whining, respectively. Grandson is perhaps the whiniest child I've ever encountered. He moves from shelf to shelf among the videos and kiddie books on tape and WHHIIIIIIIINES about what he wants what he wants what he wants. And Granny follows along telling him what he can't have and what he can have and not to pull down all the bagged books on tape while trying to get just one and to stop pulling down all the bagged books on tape AGAIN now that he's decided to do it anyway and to pick up all the bagged books on tape that he's now pulled down. He doesn't listen. He's already whining about something else.

As in accordance with tradition, Granny and Grandson began approaching the circ desk with their choices only to veer away at the last second and stay another five minutes browsing elsewhere. I knew the longer they stayed the better the chance that Yosemite Sam, no doubt waiting in the car, would get tired of waiting and come inside to find someone to inflict his presence upon, i.e. me. When the door opened, though, it was only Mr. Little Stupid who entered.

I've not mentioned it until now, but Mr. Little Stupid has been a more frequent sight at the "liberry" as of the past few months. It took me a little bit to realize who he was, as he's gained a bit of weight, now dresses in clothing other than overalls (for instance, the fetching Carrie Underw00d concert T-Shirt he had on during this incident) and no longer habitually carries the Girl Scouts binder. These days he still comes in to use the computer, but no longer requires a lengthy and identical tutorial before every session.

Mr. Little Stupid was on his way to the computer sign in sheet when Granny & Grandson decided they were indeed finished and hauled their choices up to the desk, blocking Mr. Little Stupid from access to the sheet.

The door opened and Yosemite Sam stepped in, surveyed the room and siddled up to the desk. Sam seemed to take an immediate interest in Mr. Little Stupid, much like a lion might take interest in a wounded gazelle. Before he could say anything, though, Granny noticed Mr. Little Stupid's shirt, took a deep intake of breath and squealed to Grandson, "Look who he has on his shiiiiirt!"

"Who?" Grandson said.

"Carrie Underw000000d!!!" Grandma said in amazement.

Mr. Little Stupid looked nervous about this sudden attention. He became even moreso when Sam said, "Where'd you get that?"

"Um... at the Carrie Underw00d concert at the fair."

"Who is it?" Grandson repeated.

I was still furiously checking out Granny's selection when Sam noticed another item of Mr. Little Stupid's attire.

"Hey, those ain't real dog tags," Yosemite Sam said, pointing to two brightly colored decorative metal tags hanging around Mr. Little Stupid's neck.

"Um, no," Mr. Little Stupid said.

"Then what ya wearin' `em for?" Yosemite Sam said in an accusatory tone.

"Um, um, ah, um, what?" Mr. Little Stupid said.

"If they ain't real dog tags, what ya wearin' `em for?" I took from Sam's tone that he was a bit offended that someone would dare to wear dog tags with no personal military connection to speak of. Sam, I'm speculating, is a Vietnam vet, possibly of the bitter variety.

"I... um, I just like them," Mr. Little Stupid said.

I thought Sam might jump on this, but instead he let it pass, saying that he was just kidding around and that he knew men have to have their necklaces too. Then, not abandoning the military subject, he said, "You in the National Guard?"

Mr. Little Stupid explained that, no, he wasn't in the military at all, but worked for a local fast food establishment.

By this point, I'd finished with Granny's items and she'd gathered them up and headed for the door with Grandson. Sam made no move to leave. Instead, he continued on about how Mr. Little Stupid should join the national guard where he might get to wear real dog tags and perhaps see a firefight before it's all said and done. Better still, Mr. Little Stupid should come up and visit Yosemite Sam himself sometime because, as Sam put it, "I can show you a real firefight."

"SAM!" Granny barked from the doorway.

His back turned to Granny, Sam cut his eyes in what I took to be malevolent annoyance. Whatever the case, he looked plum evil to me. Granny departed and Sam turned back to his quarry, who was still twisting nervously in the web. Sam did eventually leave, but not before waiting what seemed to be an amount of time carefully measured to infuriate Granny and not without insulting Mr. Little Stupid's receding hairline using a jovially toned Good Ol' Boy verbal jab.

After Sam was gone, Mr. Little Stupid looked a bit weak, but signed up for his computer nevertheless, no doubt off to search up some Carrie Underw00d fan sites.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy new year to me!

As I walked up to the door of the "liberry" yesterday, to put in my first day at work of 2007, I saw a glorious thing taped into one of the glass panes of our front door. It was a paper sign that read: "We now have wireless access!" What wonders a new year brings! Us, with WIRELESS! I never thought I'd never live to see the day.

I did a little dance on our front doorstep and then cautiously entered the building, bracing myself in case it was just a cruel joke on me. It wasn't!

Mrs. C showed me the new three-buttoned, paper-tape-spitting, plastic thing that now lives by the answering machine. Now when a patron comes in and asks if we have wireless, instead of kicking them in the junk and shoving them in the general direction of Ornathological Coffee—the nearest wireless access point whose signal we've often leached off of—I am to ask them "Would you like one hour, or two?" (Or four, really; the paper spitty thing has three buttons, after all.) I then hit the corresponding button to their request and the spitty thing spits out a piece of paper with their login information, all purty and convenient.

So far, we've only had one guy who's taken any notice—a fellow I kicked in the junk and shoved down the street just last week. Who knew?